Duolingo: A Resource to Stay Away From?

Why you should really think about not using this application, at least for Korean

Mathias Barra


Applications can be extremely useful in order to make use of small bits of time here and there. You can just take out your phone and there you go, you can study a language.

Both luckily and unluckily, there are thousands of applications available both for iOs and Android, and many can be quite useful but the sheer amount makes it difficult to find the right ones.

Yet, a few have come ahead of the herd and will keep on popping up everywhere whenever you look for an app to learn a language.

One of those is Duolingo.

After years using it here and there and finally one year of consistent daily work, I just finished bringing all the skills at the highest level for Korean and I am left with a taste of disgust for it.

Screenshot of the app after completing the Korean course

If I am so disgusted by that app, does it mean it was pointless? Not entirely but there are clear flaws in it and you should know those before getting yourself into it.

But first, a quick disclaimer: this article is based on my experience with the Korean course. Some other courses, such as Norwegian for instance, will have more to offer like exercises to write down the audio, which can be useful for improving listening and writing skills simultaneously.

Some clear mistakes

When I started using the app, I already had an intermediate level in Korean and almost instantly found some clear mistakes, going from translating a word into English but not recognizing the actual first definition of it, to making use of extremely impolite words.

One of the things which kept on bugging me was the use of 그녀는 for “she”. This should literally be translated into “that woman” but is also incredibly impolite and, to put it in simple terms, an expression to never say in Korean (unless you want to start a fight).

Obviously, this might not apply to many languages but, for Korean, it can make the difference



Mathias Barra

French polyglot speaking 6 languages. Writer. Helping you learn languages. Get my new ebook → https://linktr.ee/MathiasBarra